Once the presence of the cancer is confirmed in your esophagus, your oncologist will determine its stage. This is an important step because it will help to choose the treatment most appropriate and effective to fight the tumor. In general, the stage of esophageal cancer is determined by its size and degree of the cancer cells to spread within the body.
Sometimes, to confirm precisely the stage of the tumor, surgery, additional testing or removal of some lymph nodes near the tumor may be necessary.
- Carcinoma in situ – also called stage 0, the cancer is localized in the first layer of the esophageal mucosa.
- Stage I – during this early stage, the cancer is localized only in the top layer of cells lining the esophagus.
- Stage II – at stage II, the cancer has invaded the deeper layers of the esophagus and possibly the lymph nodes nearby.
- Stage III – a stage 3 esophageal cancer has spread to the deeper layers of the esophagus wall and can affect surrounding tissues or/and lymph nodes.
- Stage IV – at this last stage, the cancer has spread to other parts of your body such as the lungs and liver.
- Recurrent – a cancer that has returned after treatment is considered as a recurrent cancer. In general, a recurrent esophageal cancer is more difficult to be treated; your survival chance is lower.